E-COLLAR: GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Warning:  I strongly believe that E-collar training should never be taught without in-person coaching, therefore, nothing I share regarding E-collars is intended to be used as a D.I.Y. training program. It is only intended to be food for thought or supplementary to in-person training with Thriving Canine.

Prerequisite: Before reading this, or anything else I share on E-collars, please watch this video to get a foundational idea of my E-collar philosophy.  Chad's E-collar on Vimeo

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Failure: A synonym for try again. However, you probably need to do something different this time. (see: Top 7 Mistakes )

E-collar: Abbreviation for remote controlled electronic collar (remote collar, electric collar, shock collar) May shock, beep, vibrate or spray. 

 

Bark Collar/Anti-Bark Collar: E-collars that are triggered by barking rather than a handheld transmitter. These are unreliable, inconsistent, cannot discern appropriate barking from inappropriate barking and cannot make judgements about appropriate levels of stimulation/shock. 

 

Perimeter Collar: E-collars that are triggered by a sensor to set a boundary, typically for properties without fencing. IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not do E-collar training on the same property that has an electric perimeter, this could cause confusion for the dog.

 

Dummy Collar: An E-collar that the dog wears that is not turned on for the prevention of collar wiseness.  

 

Bungee Collar:  A collar strap for the E-collar receiver that has been fashioned with a bungee cord to make for a better fit. 

 

Collar Wiseness: Awareness of the E-collar transmitter or receiver, what it does or that you are doing it. (This is a bad thing) 

 

Collar Conditioning: A process of training and acclimatizing a dog to the E-collar with low-level stim in order to prime and prepare the dog for proper response to higher levels. 

 

Stim: Abbreviation for stimulation. A synonym for shock. Usually refers to low-level, non-painful shocks but could also refer to high-level stim. 

 

Pressure: A commonly used synonym for stim or shock. Usually referring to continuous stim, particularly in a “pressure on, pressure off” or “teaching the dog to turn off the pressure” methodology. We will NOT be using that method. (see: Top 7 Mistakes )

 

Shock: Usually refers to a high level, unpleasant stim but, technically, could also refer to a low-level shock. A commonly used word by the public that is frowned upon by E-collar advocates.

 

Zap: A high-level, unpleasant stim or shock. A commonly used word by the public that is frowned upon by E-collar advocates.

 

Nick: A very short burst of E-collar stim, like an electric leash pop. Can be done with the Momentary button or by manually giving a quick push and release of the Continuous button. 

 

Pop: (see: Nick)

Pulse: (see: Nick)  

Tap: (see: Nick)

 

Continuous Stim: Holding the Continuous button for a period of time longer than a Nick. 

 

Momentary Stim: Pushing the momentary button, which is guaranteed to only give a single pulse of stim, no matter how long you hold the button. 

 

Dialing Up/Dialing Down: Adjusting the level of stim on the E-collar

 

Marker: A sound, usually verbal, that is given at the moment of the behavior that is going to be reinforced or punished. When you call the dog and their head turns in your direction, you “mark” that behavior by praising right away. 

 

Positive: Can mean good or addition (+)

 

Negative: Can mean bad or subtraction (-) 

 

Positive Reinforcement: A scientific term for reinforcing (strengthening) a behavior by adding (+) something pleasant, such as food or affection. 

 

Negative Reinforcement: A scientific term for reinforcing (strengthening) a behavior by subtracting (-) something unpleasant such as leash pressure or E-collar stimulation. Often referred to as Escape/Avoidance training. 

 

Positive Punishment: A scientific term for adding (+) something unpleasant in order to reduce, diminish or weaken a behavior. A zap with the E-collar is Positive Punishment. 

 

Negative Punishment: A scientific term for subtracting (-) something pleasant in order to reduce, diminish or weaken a behavior. Removing or withholding a reward is Negative Punishment.

 

Punishment: A common, and often emotionally charged, word for an unpleasant consequence. Typically punishment is intended to stop a behavior quickly and reduce the likelihood of it happening again in the future. In E-collar terms, this would be a shock or zap. 

 

Interruption: Something that stops a behavior temporarily and as mildly as possible. In E-collar terms, it typically refers to a nick of attention getting or mildly unpleasant stim but, technically, redirection with something pleasant (squeaky toy) could also be considered an interruption. 

 

Correction: Often used synonymously with interruption or punishment, the word “correction” is more accurate when describing a negative consequence that is intended to be educational. We are letting the dog know they are wrong and we are attempting to make them correct. 

 

Perception Level: The lowest level of stim that the dog can perceive when in a calm state with no distractions. This is not a functional level, meaning it will not work when the dog is distracted. This is merely a conditioning level for teaching the dog how to respond to stim with minimal risk of negative reactions or side effects. (Typically, level 2-10)

 

Working Level: A minimally aversive level of stim that actually “works” to get the dog’s attention in the presence of common, mild-medium level distractions. Walking on a hiking trail, sniffing around at the park, etc. (Typically, 2-3 x the Perception Level, average is 10-30) 

 

Correction Level: A mildly aversive level of stim used as a consequence when the dog is unresponsive to Working Level stim. Assuming the dog has prerequisite training, this should only be needed around med-high level distractions. (Typically, double the Working Level, average is 20-60)

 

Punishment Level: An unpleasant or painful level of stim (shock) that should only be needed when the dog is highly distracted and overstimulated such as chasing wildlife, extreme leash reactivity, etc. May also be used for stopping dangerous behavior quickly and reducing the likelihood of it happening in the future. For example: Rattlesnake aversion training is common here in California. May be used with or without a verbal warning, depending on circumstances. (Higher end of the Correction Level range, average is 40-100)

 

Level Ranges: The four levels described above will more likely be a range rather than an exact setting. The levels required for the various situations can change due to the collar's position on the dog’s neck or the dog’s mental, emotional, and biological state. For example: You may find that your dog’s Working Level is around 12, meaning that sometimes 8 will be enough and other times you may need 16. This is common but if the numbers are changing wildly, stop and reassess, something could be wrong with the collar or the fit of the collar. 

 

Chad Culp, Certified Dog Trainer, Canine Behavior Consultant and Owner of Thriving Canine. 

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